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Water Fish 

Bob Duncan 

ecently I had 
the pleasure of 
watching one of our 
Conservation Police 
Officers, Sgt. David 
Dodson, receive 
recognition for his 
leadership skills by 
the International 
Hunter Education 
Association, w^ho 
selected him as Pro- 
fessional of the Year. 

Sgt. Dodson has 
been instrumental 
in coordinating our 
Hunter Education 
program, one of the 
hallmarks of this organization for near- 
ly 50 years. From its inception in 1961, 
the hunter safety program (as it was 
called then) has reinforced the impor- 
tance of safe practices in the field to 
hunters across the state. Early classes 
were often sponsored by sportsmen's 
associations or local, civic groups. 
Classes were taught by Virginia Game 
Wardens (now known as Conservation 
Police Officers), who occasionally 
brought in mentors with special skills 
to assist them, or by volunteer instruc- 
tors trained and certified by the Nation- 
al Rifle Association. The classes usually 
spanned four hours in length and con- 
centrated on the safe handling of 

Today, we are blessed with a force of 
850 volunteer instructors from every re- 
gion of Virginia who train about 14,000 

Sergeant David Dodson (C) is joined by 
Executive Director Bob Duncan (L) and 
Captain Bobby Mawyer (R). 

students each year! 
Hunter education 
has broadened to 
incorporate a 10- 
hour curriculum, 
and covers every- 
thing from safety 
and sportsmanship 
to principles of con- 
servation. In 1988, 
hunter education 
became mandatory 
for 12- to 15-year- 
olds and all first- 
time hunters. Since 
that time, the rate of 
shooting incidents 
has fallen by approximately 25% . 

It is my honor to recognize all mem- 
bers of the Hunter Education pro- 
gram — volunteers and paid staff — ^who 
dedicate their time and expertise to pro- 
mote safe hunting practices. It is 
through your commitment to this effort 
that we can say, and appreciate, that 
more safe hunters and companions are 
afield. Thank you. 

And "hats off" to Sergeant Dodson 
for his commitment and hard work. I 
look forward to further details about 
hunter safety in Sgt. Dodson's feature 
story, slated for an upcoming issue of 
this magazine. 

If you are interested in becoming a 
Hunter Education instructor, contact 
the closest regional DGIF office or Safe 

m^i . 


Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 
To provide opporlimity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the 
rights of the peojile to hunt, fish and harvest game a-s provided for in die Constitution of Virginia; To promote Siifcty for persons and prop- 
erty in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of 
and appreciation for Virginias fish and wildlife resources, their habitaLs, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 


Commonwealth of Virginia 
Timothy M. Kaine, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

L. Preston Bryant, Jr. 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
Thomas A. Stroup, Fairfax 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 

Emily Pels, Art Director 

Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 

Lenee Pennington, Jeff Trollinger, Staff 


Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 



Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other com- 
munications concerning this publication to Virginia 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rate? 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.0C 
per each back issue, subject to availability. Out-of- 
country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be paid 
in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less than 
$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. 
Postmaster: Please send all address changes to 
Virginia Wildlife, PC. Box 7477, Red Oak, Iowa 
51591-0477. Postage for periodicals paid at 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry offices. 

Copyright 2009 by the Virginia Department ol 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall 
afford to all persons an equal access to Department 
programs and facilities without regard to race, 
color, religion, national origin, disability, sex, oi 
age. If you believe that you have been discriminat- 
ed against in any program, activity or facility, 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 
West Broad Street.) PO. Box 1II04, Richmond, 
Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general informa- 
tional purposes only and every effort has been 
made to ensure its accuracy. The information con- 
tained herein does not serve as a legal representa- 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. The 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 
does not assume responsibility for any change in 
dates, regulations, or information that may occur 
after publication." 

f^\ Mixed Sour( 

Fsc Tz:-. 



About the cover: 

Clapper rails 
(Rallus longirostris) 
are one of four rail 
species found in 
Virginia. Hunting 
the elusive bird 
can be thrilling. 
See story on 
page 4. 
©Masbwski Photn 




For subscriptions, 

circulation problems 

and address changes 



12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23-95 

rj'v^-^- ,i- 

4 Marsh Madness 
by David Hart 
Virginias barrier islands provide a rewarding 
hunting opportunity. 

8 Angling on the Nations River 
by King Montgomery 
A smorgasbord offish species awaits you in the 
tidal stretches oi the Potomac. 

40 Why Squirrels? 
■ ^i by Tee Clarkson 
One Virginian sticks with a winning combina- 
tion to introduce kids to hunting. 

H% Food for Body and Mind 

I %M by Gail Brown 
Food for America Day creates quite a stir beyond 
the small community of Woodstock. 

M Skinny Water Fishing 
by Charlie Petrocci 
Eastern Shore creeks create the perfect backdrop 
to expand your angling horizons. 

M Discover Our Wild Side 
by Martha W.Steger 
September is an ideal time to enjoy one of the many 
Birding and Wildlife Trail loops. 

Afield and Afloat 

29 OfF the Leash 

uU Journal 

uZ Photo Tips 

33 On the Water 

iM Dining In 

©David Hart 

Things haven't changed much 
on the Eastern Shore since the 
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel 
opened in 1964. There are a few more 
residents now and traffic may have 
increased a little, but the fishing is still 
good and lifelong Eastern Shore resi- 
dents will tell you the rail hunting has 
never been better. 

You've never heard of a rail? How 
about a marsh hen? That's what a lot 
of Eastern Shore hunters call them. 
Still doesn't ring a bell? You aren't 
alone. Although bag limits are gener- 
ous—Virginia hunters can take as 
many as 40 birds in a day — and hunt- 
ing opportunities are virtually limit- 
less, rails are one of the state's best- 
kept secrets. They are also one of the 
most unique hunting opportunities 
anywhere. Think: a long-legged quail 
in a salt marsh. 

by David Hart 

There are actually four species of 
rails available to hunters in Virginia. 
Only one, the clapper rail, is found in 
the salt marshes of the barrier islands 
in great numbers. The others are 
found primarily in freshwater marsh- 
es, says Department waterfowl biolo- 
gist Gary Costanzo. Hunters are al- 
lowed 25 sora and Virginia rails com- 
bined, and 15 king and clappers com- 
bined. According to data compiled by 
the Harvest Information Program, or 
HIP, clappers make up about 85 per- 
cent of the total harvest. About 14 per- 
cent of the annual harvest consists of 
sora rails, and kings and Virginia rails 
make up the rest. 

"There are some rails taken in 
freshwater marshes, but the vast ma- 
jority of the hunting takes place on the 
Eastern Shore and it's pretty much all 
clappers," says Costanzo. 

According to HIP data, hunters av- 
erage around 15 birds per season. 
However, those who hunt at the right 
time and know rails and their habits 
can fill up a game pouch pretty quick. 
In fact, action can be downright crazy. 
Dave Griffith, a real estate broker from 
Cape Charles, times his hunts with the 
flood tides that occur just a handful of 
days each season. When the moon, 
wind, and other natural forces com- 
bine to flood the Eastern Shore marsh- 
es around his home, Griffith loads his 
boat, grabs a friend or two, and heads 
for the nearest boat ramp on the 
Shore's seaside. That's where count- 
less grass-covered marsh islands offer 
an endless bounty of rail hunting op- 
portunities. When the marsh floods, 
however, those islands are typically 
under water. And that's when the rail 
hunting gets good, says Griffith. 




High Tide, Fast Action 

Normally, rails don't fly much, even 
when they are pushed by a line of 
hunters slogging through the marsh. 
That's why locals like Griffith don't 
bother to hunt when the tide is low 
and the myriad islands are dry. Most 
are covered with knee- to waist-high 
cordgrass and rails simply hold or 
move ahead of walking hunters. 
High water, however, forces the birds 
onto the remaining dry ground 
where they are easy to locate. 

A handful of natural events will 
create prime hunting conditions, and 
the Department sets the rail season to 
maximize hunting opportunities 
based around those conditions. Sea- 
son dates will vary each year to cap- 
ture as many flood tides as possible 
within the federally allotted 70-day 
season, which typically starts in early 

or mid-September and runs into No- 
vember. At best, hunters will have 
two prime tides per month, but other 
events like hurricanes or strong 
Nor 'easters can push lots of water up 
against the coast, flooding the seaside 
barrier islands and creating addition- 
al hunting opportunities. 

"Sometimes there will be a half- 
dozen or more rails on one small high 
spot," says Griffith. "I'm looking for 
anything that lets the birds sit with- 
out getting their feet wet. They gather 
in duck blinds, on small tumps, or on 
floating mats of grass. If you look 
across the marsh when it's flooded 
and you see something that isn't 
under water, go take a look." 

Griffith and other dedicated rail 
hunters simply use the time honored 
tradition of a long pole to push a boat „ 
across the water to any spot that f 
looks like it should hold a few birds. ^ 

Generous limits, fast action, and plenty of public 
marsh make rails the perfect game bird. 


Rails, or marsh hens, are often 
accessed by boat on a flood tide 
(pg. 4). A retriever can help flush 
birds that don't want to fly, as well as 
retrieve birds dropped in tall grass or 
deep water 

It's illegal to hunt migratory birds in 
a boat that is under gas or electric 
motor power, but a push-pole is 
perfectly legal. So is wind. When he 
can, Griffith will allow the wind to 
push his boat toward the high spot 
while his partner waits for birds to 

He doesn't, however, hunt the 
shoreline or large islands with acres 
of high ground. Birds adjacent to 
large areas of dry land are too hard 
to flush because they can keep 
walking ahead of approaching 
hunters, slipping in and out of any 
cover they can find. 

The Hard Way 

That's not to say it's impossible to 
flush a rail on a low tide or on dry 
ground. In some situations, if s fairly 
easy. Captain Matt Mason, a Chin- 
coteague resident and part-time 
guide, island hops, jumping from 
one small rise to another, no matter 
what the water, weather, or tide. He 
simply runs the bow of his boat onto 
land, throws out an anchor, and goes 
for a walk. Instead of slogging 
through the muck in a random path, 
he instead devises a calculated plan 
for each island he hunts. 

"You want to push the birds to- 
ward a point or at least to one side of 
the island. If you have a couple of 
other hunters, walk in a line about 20 
or 30 feet apart while heading toward 
a point if you can," he says. "It's also a 
good idea to walk a few yards from 
open water because rails will be 
forced to fly if they are squeezed 
against the edge." 

Because rails will either run or 
simply duck and wait for a hunter to 
pass. Mason sometimes relies on a 
trick used by old-time rail hunters. 
He drops a few pebbles into empty 
drink cans and ties them to a length 
of rope about 50 feet long and attach- 
es each end of the rope to a hunter's 

Rail hunting gets good when the water floods seaside marsh islands in September/ 
October. Cans tied to a rope, attached to walking hunters (below), can help flush 
birds that might otherwise let you pass by. It's an old trick that still works. 

waist. As the hunters walk, the cans 
pass directly over hiding birds and 
rattle along the top of the grass, 
which can make the birds nervous 
enough to fly. 

Mason doesn't necessarily search 
for a particular type of island when 
the tide is low. All of them hold rails 
at one time or another. He does, how- 
ever, favor those that are a mix of tall 
and short cover. The problem with 
the tall grass, he notes, is that it allows 

rails to hunker down and let hunters 
walk past. 

"If you can get them out in the 
shorter grass, around a foot or less, 
you have a much better chance of get- 
ting them to flush," he says. 

During the first weeks of the sea- 
son. Mason recommends wearing 
long pants and a pair of old shoes that 
you don't mind getting wet and 
muddy. No matter how hard you try, 
you're going to get dirty, he says. 

That's okay. Splashing through the 
cool water is a welcome relief from 
the sometimes-searing heat and hu- 
midity. As the season moves into 
mid-October, Mason switches to 
waders and he'U start keeping an eye 
out for higher tides that concentrate 
the birds. 

"They are starting to move out 
then and there is a little more hunting 
pressure, so the birds can be a little 
tougher after the season has been 
open for four or five weeks. A flood 
tide can concentrate the remaining 
birds and make them much easier to 
find," he says. 

Bird dogs can point rails, but 
Mason says the sharp grass and 
shells common in rail habitat are 
tough on a dog's feet. He recom- 
mends fitting a dog with booties, or 
simply leaving it at home. He hunts 
with his Labrador retriever, which 
helps flush birds and locate those 
knocked down by hunters. 

Room to Roam 

Virtually all of the Eastern Shore bar- 
rier islands are open to public hunt- 
ing. Most are state property, a few are 
owned by the Department, and some 
are under the national wildlife refuge 
system. A few others belong to the 
federal government or the Nature 

Conservancy, and a handful are pri- 
vately owned. The government is- 
lands are typically well marked with 
signs designating them as such; in 
most cases, so are the privately- 
owned islands. As a general rule, if it 
isn't posted, it's fair game. Costanzo 
says Mockhorn Island Wildlife Man- 
agement Area is a good place to start. 
It's basically 7,000 acres of mud and 
grass islands intersected by serpen- 
tine guts, ditches, and larger creeks. 
There is some high ground with 
pines, bayberry, and cedars, but 
mostly, it's a vast series of marshy is- 
lands — perfect rail country. 

"Mockhorn gets a fair amount of 
pressure when the conditions are 
right because a lot of people don't re- 
alize most of the other marsh islands 
are open to hunting," says Costanzo. 
"Generally speaking, if it isn't at- 
tached to the mainleind or if it isn't 
posted, you can hunt it." 

There are a handful of boat 
launches scattered up and down the 
seaside of the Eastern Shore. The 
newest is located on the Eastern 
Shore National Wildlife Refuge just a 
few miles from the Chesapeake Bay 
Bridge-Tunnel. It offers quick access 
to the southernmost barrier islands, 
including Mockhorn Wildlife Man- 
agement Area. 

If you hunt on foot, walk along the water's 
edge and try to push birds toward points. 
Raib will avoid flying unless they have to. 

There are also ramps in Oyster, 
Red Bank, Wachapreague, and Folly 
Creek, and a small ramp is located on 
the causeway between the mainland 
and Chincoteague Island, offering 
easy access to the countless islands in 
that area, i 

David Hart is a fiill-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contrib- 
utor to numerous Jiational hunting and fishing 






The Tidal Potomac 
Reveals its Wild Side 

by King Montgomery 

The boundary between the District 
of Columbia and Virginia is the 
tidal Potomac, a stretch of river 
with a split personality. Much of it is 
an urban fishery surrounded by 
high-rise buildings on the Virginia 
side and by many of our national 
monuments and seat of government 
on the other. Some spots, however, 
remain almost wild, particularly 
where the river narrows upstream of 
Georgetown to the Chain Bridge 
across from McLean. Here, deer 
come down from the wooded hills to 
drink, red foxes roam the banks look- 
ing for food, and waterfowl have 
their cliicks, cygnets, and goslings in 
the spring and then move to warmer 
locales come late fall. By autumn, the 
pleasing sounds of geese honking 
overhead combine with the sight of 
gorgeous reds and yellows of the 
hardwoods. Both sides of the river, 
regardless of personality, are inextri- 
cably joined by tlie beauty of the sea- 
sons, and by a common history. 


' '?E^c"t7'^'K 


©King Montgomery 

The ^arfy ^ays \ 

In 1608, on a journey up tfie Potomac 
from the CHesapea^ (Bay, Captain Jo fin 
Smith xi/rote of seeing more fish in one 
place than he had ever witnessed 6ef ore. 
Indians aCong the river refiedonfishfor 
food and darter When 'European settlers 
estaBCished a foothoCd in the 9iew 
World, sturgeon were plentifuf enough 
to support a majorfishery. 

The (Potomac also featured largeCy in 
the earCy struggles of the young country. 
In 1812, the (British sailed up the river 
and 6umed parts of Washington, (DC, 
incCuding the White House. (During the 
American CivifWar, the river formed a 
Boundary Between opposing armies and 
ways offfe. In Battles at Harpers Terry, 
Antietam, QettysBurg, and dozens of 
other places, the (Potomac played a vitaC 
role as a naturaf oBstacle or suppCy Cine 
for one side or the other 

Left, Great Foils, between Virginia and Maryland, lies just above the District of 
Columbia and its shared jurisdiction of the Potomac River. Above, largemouth 
bass and other sunfishes congregate near docks and manmade structures. 


As agriculture and industry de- 
veloped and prospered in the fertile 
Potomac plain, byproducts of our ig- 
norance and unconcern turned the 
river into a foul smelling, seemingly 
stagnant, almost lifeless body of 
water. By 1960, parts of the river were 
virtually dead. The Clean Water Act 
of 1968 established a long-term plan 
and funds for cleaning up and main- 
taining the Potomac. Fortunately, by 
the 1980s the river was on its way to 
ecological recovery, and has become 
one of the best tidal largemouth bass 
fishing rivers in the country. 

The tidal portion of the Potomac 
flows 108 miles, from just below Lit- 
tle Falls near Langley to its 11 -mile- 
wide mouth between Maryland's 
Point Lookout and Virginia's Smith 
Point where the river enters the 
Chesapeake Bay. The first 11 miles of 
its tidal life — from a mile or so below 

Little Falls to the draw-span of the 
Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge 
that connects Maryland and Virginia 
via Interstate 95 and the Capital Belt- 
way — belongs to the District of Co- 
lumbia. You need a DC license to fish 
this stretch. The remainder of the Po- 
tomac falls under Maryland's juris- 
diction from shore to shore: Mary- 
land's spoils from a British crown 
land grant in the 18th century. This 
fact still causes serious water use con- 
flicts between Maryland and Virginia 

Ttie Fishery 

There are over 60 species of fish 
swimming the tidal Potomac. In the 
freshwater reaches, before the water 
turns from brackish to salt, large- 
mouth bass reigns supreme. The 
largemouth is joined by lesser num- 
bers of its smallmouth cousins, and a 



Anglers catch largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass, and other game fish 
within sight of notional monuments. 

resident population of juvenile 
striped bass, born in the river and 
awaiting their time — usually three to 
five years — to become sexually ac- 
tive and head downriver to the 
Chesapeake and, eventually, Atlantic 
Ocean. During late winter and 
spring, other migratory species such 
as herring, hickory shad, yellow 
perch, white perch, and the large 
breeding-age stripers move up into 
DC waters to spawn. Factor in the 
sunfishes — primarily bluegill, rock 
bass, crappie and carp, channel and 
blue catfish — and you'll see why you 
never know what you'll catch when 
you fish these waters. 

In the fall, the black basses and 
sunfishes will concentrate in areas 
where food and cover are available 
and feed heavily, particularly during 
the warmer periods of the day. This 
culinary frenzy helps the fish get into 
optimum shape for winter's leaner 

Tides are very important in the 
lives of all river creatures, but partic- 
ularly to fish. In each 25-hour cycle, 
the tide will rise and fall twice, with 
an average change in depth of about 
18 to 24 inches. All fish, from the 
smallest minnows to the largest 
striped bass, are most active and apt 
to be caught during moving water. 

either in or out. The creatures at all 
links of the food chain are stimulated 
by water's movement and an in- 
crease in feeding levels usually re- 
sults as the tide pulls. Unless they are 
in eddies or slack water, the fish face 
into the current and, like trout in a 
stream, are usually on the down-cvir- 
rent side of a structure waiting for 
food to float or swim by, so present 
your fly or lure accordingly. 

Structure Holds Fish 

The tidal Potomac between Virginia 
and the District of Columbia flows 
through a primarily urban environ- 
ment, where manmade and natural 
types of fish-holding structures are 
found. A structure can be quite large, 
such as the huge boulders near 
Fletcher's Boathouse well upstream 
of Georgetown. In contrast, you'll 
also find small patches of vegetation, 
road and rail bridge supports, sea 
walls, piers and docks, boat marinas, 
spoils areas, and an expansive hy- 
drilla field stretching between DCs 
main sewage processing facility to 
just beyond the Woodrow Wilson 

The rocks at Fletcher's Boathouse 
cause enticing eddies and swirls and 
some fallen trees along the banks add 
more, albeit transient, structure. This 

Weedless Fly 

pattern continues downstream to the 
Three Sisters Islands with rocky shal- 
lows located near very deep water 
Then comes the Francis Scott Key 
Bridge between Arlington and 
Georgetown. Bridge abutments are 
excellent places to cast a fly or lure. 
There are also old stone bridge/ 
aqueduct supports just upriver from 
the bridge that hold black bass and 
stripers, particularly a support com- 
pletely underwater near the middle 

Moving downstream, seawalls 
and bridges provide the primary 
structure with some scattered patch- 
es of aquatic vegetation, including 
spatterdock (lily pads) around Roo- 
sevelt Island. The Pentagon Lagoon 
on the Virginia side is a superb place 
to get out of the wind and catch fish, 
all within the shadow of the Penta- 
gon. Other spots to check out as you 
move downriver from the Capital to 

Quiet moments are sometimes interrupt- 
ed by jetliners landing and taking off 
from Reagan National Airport. 


You may need more than one 
fishing license, depending on 
where you cast. For more 
information, check: i^-^. 

Numerous bridges span the tidal stretcli of the river, providing good habitat and good fishing opportunities. 

©King Montgomery 

the Wilson Bridge include the numer- 
ous bridges and the boat docks or 
marinas along the way. The Washing- 
ton Channel, a dredged, manmade 
waterway, is home to the seawall of 
Fort Leslie J. McNair, numerous 
docks, and a fish market complex 
where the channel stops at the flood 
gates of the Tidal Basin not far from 
the Jefferson Memorial. Vegetation 
grows along the seawall and a signifi- 
cant drop-off provides good fishing. 
The Washington Yacht Marina and 
mouth of Four Mile Run near Reagan 
National Airport on the Virginia side 
are also productive, particularly dur- 
ing an outgoing tide. 

Across the river from Alexandria 
is DCs Blue Plains sewage treatment 
facility. The warm effluent, although 
stinky at times, contains questionable 
nutrients which help create an aquar- 
ium-like environment where fish 
abound and respond to a well-cast 
lure or fly. Fish congregate here in the 
fall and winter because the warm 
water effluent keeps temperatures 
higher than the rest of the river. 

Downstream and mid-river is an 
extensive flat created by the dump- 
ing of dredge spoil over the centuries. 
Fertilized by Blue Plains, the flat is 
covered with hydrilla, and is a place 
to consistently catch fish, particularly 


during spring and fall. The nearby 
Spoils Cove, straddling the DC and 
Maryland line, is a great place to fish 
and escape from the wind. The Spoils 
has riprap made of the decking re- 
moved from the old Wilson Bridge 
during its last major face-lift and two 
concrete /asphalt "islands" that pro- 
vide a haven for fish of all species, a 
home to a beaver family, and nesting 
places for ducks and geese. 

Almost any of the Wilson Bridge 
pilings should hold fish at various 
times of the year. The main channel 
runs under the draw-span on the Vir- 
ginia side, but a secondary channel 
mirrors it on the Maryland bank; the 
three or four pilings on either side of 
these chaiTnels usually are most pro- 
ductive for the angler. 

Since there are relatively few 
places to fish from shore on either the 
Washington or Northern 
Virginia banks of the 
river, most angling 
occurs from 

boats. These can range from canoes, 
kayaks, and johnboats for use in 
coves and creeks, to 20-foot bass 
boats in the main channel. I usually 
carry several fly and spinning/ cast- 
ing rods rigged for many contingen- 

As you can see, the 11 -mile water 
boundary between the District of Co- 
lumbia and the Commonwealth is an 
interesting, fun place to fish. The like- 
liliood that you will appreciate a bit 
of history while daydreaming as you 
cast your fly or lure into the water is 
pure bonus, n 

King Montgomery is an outdoor and travel 
writer I piwtographer who lives in Burke. Win- 
ner ofnuinerotis -writing and photo awards, he is 
a former fly-fishing guide on the Potomac. 

A great introduction to 

hunting, for a youngster, 

and a way to enjoy the 

companionship of a 

good squirrel dog 











^^^T ^B^.^^1^^ 



There are thousands upon thou- 
sands of pages written each 
year chronicling man's adven- 
tures in the cold, tidal marshes and 
swamps with the big waterfowl dog 
breeds like labs and Chespeakes. Even 
the water spaniels and Boykins make a 
few headlines along the way. And still 
there are thousands more pages paying 
homage to the pointers, spaniels, and 
setters that cut wide swaths across the 
fields, lowlands, and mountains in 
search of the wild scent of quail, par- 
tridge, pheasant, and grouse. There are 
far fewer tales, however, dedicated to 
squirrel dogs, and to the men, women, 
and youngsters who follow them 
through the hardwood forests of the 

Allen Stigall is one of these men. He 
bought his first hunting license in 
Washington County, Virginia, for one 
dollar when he was eight years old. He 
is 71 now and has been hunting all the 
years in between. Over that time he has 
hunted deer, grouse, and waterfowl in 
the southwest part of the state. Now he 
just hunts squirrels. The main reason, 
his squirrel dogs. 




One of StigaU's seven squirrel dogs, a red Finnish Spitz, trees a fox squirrel. 
Below: Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce kids to hunting and is lil<ely 
to produce successful results. 

"Without a dog as a com- 
panion, I just don't enjoy the hunt/' 
Stigall says. He has seven squirrel 
dogs, all of them red Finnish Spitz. 
Upon first looking at them, tliese 20- 
to 30-pound national dogs of Finland 
with red fur and upturned tails look 
more like pets than hunters. In Fin- 
land they hunt birds similar to 
turkeys, but here they are primarily 
used for treeing wild game like squir- 
rels, bobcats, and raccoons. 

As for the popularity of squirrel 
hunting in Virginia, Gary Norman, 
who supervises small game and 
furbearer projects for the Depart- 
ment, reports that roughly one-third 
of the hunting population in Virginia 
Y hunts squirrels. That equates to 
I somewhere in the neighborhood of 
"s 68,000 squirrel hunters in the state. 
y Only a small percentage hunts witli 
® dogs. Last year these hunters logged 
425,000 days in the woods, harvest- 
ing 685,000 gray squirrels and 110,000 
fox squirrels. 

"It is an underutilized wildlife 
species and sport," Norman says of 
squirrels and squirrel hunting. With a 
season that runs from early Septem- 
ber through January, there are ample 
opportunities to get out in the woods 
in search of squirrels, especially 
when all the wildlife management 
areas and most, if not all, state and na- 
tional forests allow hunting to some 
extent. "With timber management 
now, forest species are thriving," says 
Norman, "which means lots of small 
wood lots and perfect habitat for 

Finding a viable squirrel hunting 

option is as easy as locating the clos- 

S est public hunting grounds on the 


Department's Find Game program 

As with any outdoor pursuit, 
there is never really a bad time to be 
in the woods or on the water with 
friends, family, or by oneself. In terms 
of squirrel hunting, the best time to 
go during the season is, generally, 
when most of the leaves are off the 
trees, simply because this allows the 
hunter better visibility. That does not 
mean one cannot be successful earli- 
er in the season. 

"I cannot imagine a better sport 
and opportunity to introduce young- 
sters to hunting based on the popula- 
tion of squirrels and availability of 
hunting land," Norman says. The 
beauty of squirrel hunting for young- 
sters is multi-faceted. Typically 
speaking, it is something they can do 
close to home. They are likely to have 
success, and it also allows them to 
practice different tactics necessary in 
other types of hunting that they may 
get into later: stalking, still hunting, 
and even hunting behind dogs. 
While most adult hunters use .22 cal- 
iber rifles for squirrels, shotguns are a 
great option for youngsters. 

Allen Stigall agrees with Norman 
concerning getting youngsters out in 
the woods. He has noticed fewer and 
fewer squirrel hunters since he began 
the sport in his youth. Not hunting 
by himself anymore, he enjoys the 
company of other hunters during the 
30 to 40 days he spends in the woods 
each year. He specifically relishes the 
opportunity to take young people 

Last fall Stigall set out in the hills 
of southwest Virginia with Eric 
Rutherford, a wildlife photographer 
and friend. Bringing along Rosebud, 
Simon, and Delilah, three of Stigall's 
favorite dogs, the two began their 
hunt mid-morning. The dogs were 
off quickly in search of fresh scent 
and the hunters followed along 
leisurely. Unlike beagles, the Finnish 
Spitz do not make any noise until 
they have something in a tree, so 
there is no way to know if they are on 
a scent until you hear them. It wasn't 
long this day before Rutherford and 
Stigall heard the tell-tale yapping of 
the dogs in the distance. They had 
treed a squirrel. 


True to form, as the hunters ap- 
proached they found all three dogs 
surrounding a tall oak. Eyes scouring 
every inch of tree branch, it did not 
take long before Stigall spotted a gray 
squirrel curled where the base of a 
large limb met the trunk. 

This is perhaps where Stigall is at 
his best, with a .22 caliber rifle in his 
hand. In November of 2007 he shot 
the highest score ever recorded in a 
benchrest shooting competition for 
the 6 target A66-Indoor category. 

"It's almost a sin to shoot one be- 
hind the ears," he says. In this case he 
did not disappoint. With one in the 
bag, the dogs were off again and the 
scene replayed itself plenty more 
times throughout the morning and 
into early afternoon. 

So as outdoor writers continue to 
spin yams on the stylish points of the 
German Shorthair or the unbeliev- 
able blind retrieves of the Chesa- 
peake Bay retriever, Allen Stigall will 
continue to walk the woods with his 
red Finnish Spitz, perfectly content 
with their style and companionship. 
He will no doubt enjoy a wonderful 
day in the woods, and quite possibly 
introduce a youngster to the sport he 
has loved for well over 50 years. D 

Tee Clarksou is an English teacher at Deep Run 
High School in Henrico Co. and runs Virginia 
Fishing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 


Squirrel hunting has been expanded 
to include a June season (June 5-19, 
2010). Hunting is allowed on all pri- 
vate lands and on certain wildlife 
management areas. For more infor- 
mation and a list of wildlife manage- 
ment areas, the 2009-2010 Hunting 
and Trapping in Virginia regulation 
booklet can be found online at 

New DVD Available 

"Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy 

and Panfish Preparation and 

Filleting" can be purchased 

through the DGIF store: 



^ I \ yNaturally 

for Body and Mind 

Central High 

School's FFA and 

the Food for 

America Day 

story and photos by Gail Brown 

fter more than a 
week of cold and 
rain, the May skies 
over Central High School remained 
ominous. Events had been canceled, 
picnics had moved inside, and it did 
not look good for the Food for America 
program, scheduled by Central's 
FFA (formerly. Future Farmers of 
America). Goals of the Food for Ameri- 
ca program include teaching elemen- 
tary school students the importance 

of agriculture and how it affects tlieir 
lives on a day-to-day basis. To that 
end, FFA students briiig a variety of 
farm animals — horses, goats, and 
chickens — educational displays, and 
farm equipment to campus. And 
while a little mud certainly won't 
bother the pigs and cows, attendees 
(teachers included) might find slip- 
ping and sliding a bit of a challenge. 

When asked if the program would 
proceed as plaruied, the best that FFA 
advisor and teacher Dana Fisher 
could offer: "We'll just have to wait 
and see. That back field's pretty wet." 



No matter. Everyone in the close-knit 
Shenandoah County community of 
Woodstock knew that when pickups 
loaded with livestock (followed by a 
planter and haybine) were seen 
winding their way up Susan Avenue, 
the Food for America event was about 
to begin! 

FFA is an important part of the ctil- 
ture and educational experience at 
Central High and in the Woodstock 
community. Teacher Sherry Heish- 
man has seen FFA and agriculttiral 
education classes grow and develop 
over the 24 years she has been at Cen- 
tral. She believes FFA is an important 
part of the rural farming experience. 
In addition to FFA's Food for America 
program, organizational members 
lead and participate in a number of 
community service programs such as 
the local Adopt-A-Higlnoay program, 
their yearly schoolwide canned food 
drive, and various educational efforts 
designed to teach others about agri- 
culture and the natural world. 

FFA also contributes to the com- 
munity by processing deer donated 
by local hunters and the Department 
of Game and Inland Fisheries for the 
Hunters for the Hungry program. This 
past year. Central FFA members 
processed 16 deer which provided 
over 500 pounds of venison for a local 
food bank. Always looking for ways 
to "stand on their own two feet," stu- 
dents' hard work in agricultural 
classes, successful fundraisers (such 
as citrus sales and sales of plants 
grown in their new greenhouse), and 
scholarships provided by the local 
Dodge dealership have resulted in 
members raising over $11,000 to sup- 
port further FFA experiences. 

While the National FFA Organiza- 
tion and their Virginia FFA Associa- 
tion are an important part of Central 
High's agricultural education pro- 
gram, FFA does not stand alone; 
rather, it is part of a three-pronged ap- 
proach to securing a strong founda- 
tion in all aspects of agricultural sci- 
ence. Classroom instruction and lab 
work, membership in FFA, and suc- 
cessful completion of a supervised 
agriculture experience (SAE) are the 

Knowing how to maintain equipment is important for ttiose wiio grow our food. 




While animals are fun to pet, they need proper care and feeding, too. 



goals for students in agriculture 
classes at Central High. An SAE al- 
lows students to secure information 
about agricultural careers while 
learning leadership and life skills 
under the supervision of teachers, 
family members, and other commu- 
nity leaders. At Central, fully 100% of 
FFA members had an active SAE ex- 
perience this year (with over 80% 
completing more than one SAE proj- 
ect), and this achievement is expect- 
ed to continue this academic year. 

While these worthwhile, altruistic 
programs continue to make a differ- 
ence in their community. Central 
High School's FFA leaders have 
made their mark at the state level as 
well. Since Central formed its FFA 
chapter, the school has seen a total of 
22 members elevated to state leader- 
ship positions! Indeed, a member 
from the Central High School FFA 
has served as an officer at the state 
level for the past 8 years, bringing 
well deserved recognition to their 
school, families, and community. 
Both the 2003 and 2004 classes saw a 
member from Central's FFA rise to 
the level of president in the Virginia 
FFA. Central's current FFA Vice Pres- 
ident and officer in charge of the 2009 
Food for America program, Aaron 

A brief lesson on equipment and creel limits helps everyone understand that, while 
fishing is fun, we all need to follow the rules. 

iu btLuiiie good stewards, kids need to 
understand where food comes from. 

Animals can be used for show or to provide companionship. Learning how to 
properly handle an animal teaches responsibility. 


Heishman, was also a national final- 
ist for the Agri-science Student of the 
Year in 2008. 

"I chose to chair Food for America 
because I think it is one of the most 
vital things the FFA can do," states 
Heishman. "I have participated and 
helped with Food for America since I 
can remember." Organizing a pro- 
gram that can meet the needs of com- 
munity members, peers, teachers, 
and the entire fourth grade at nearby 
WW Robinson Elementary School is 
quite a challenge, although Heish- 
man feels it was no more so than or- 
ganizing any of the other FFA pro- 
grams. Approximately 40 of Heish- 
man's fellow FFA members worked 
in teams of 2 or 3 to present interac- 
tive, educational lessons on such top- 
ics as beef and dairy cattle, goats, 
sheep, poultry and rabbits; farm 
equipment (uses and safety proce- 
dures); ATV vehicles and safety 
strategies; fishing; horses; and vari- 
ous other facets of farm life. 

"Food doesn't come from a 
store...," states Heishman, adding, 
"there is a lot of hard work that goes 
into the production of it." 

Fellow students Heather Craw- 
ford and Dyllan Chapins concur, 
adding that one of the main chal- 
lenges of the day was keeping enthu- 
siastic fourth graders in some sem- 
blance of a line while trying to get 
them to ask questions "one at a time." 
But it's hard not to bounce around 
some when there's so much to see 
and do, and it was clear by their 
smiles that the FFA team shared those 
same high spirits. With the children 
engaged and wanting to learn, all of 
their hard work was paying off. What 
was also clear was that these young 
adults were making a difference by 
working together — in their own lives 
and in their community, as well. 

There's something about going to 
a school where everyone knows each 
other (and their horses and dogs, too) 
that brings a wistfulness to mind — 
like seeing a happy memory dressed 
in the fad of the day. When we see 
young adults working together on 
projects that benefit others as much 
as themselves, we see something we 
know we want for children every- 
where — a chance to grow the skills 

What was also clear was that 
these young adults were making a 
difference by working together — 
in their own lives and in their com- 
munity as well. 

needed to become productive mem- 
bers of our communities. The kids 
from Central have found a way to 
make this happen. Perhaps FFA 
member Hannah Schechtel said it 
best when she said, "Food for Ameri- 
ca allowed us to educate the younger 
generation and the public about agri- 
culture ... To educate others about 
agriculture is a good feeling." 

Clearly, that good feeling was 
shared by all who attended the event, 
for although feet stayed wet and cold, 
hearts grew full and happy: When ex- 
uberant children grew noisy, farm an- 
imals stayed calm. And as tomor- 
row's leaders pulled curious minds 
in, adult hearts puffed out with pride. 
It was an amazing day. 

Certainly no one — especially the 
fourth graders — cared how very wet 
their feet were getting. The kids just 
wanted their turn to pet the pig. D 

Gail Brown is a retired teaciier and school ad- 

When asl<ed, "Wliat did you do at school today?" how many l<ids can answer, 
"I fed a horse"? 


I H ft- 
•>' If 


story and photos by Charlie Petrocci 

All I could do was smile as the fish 
pulled my kayak a little farther 
out into the creek. A glistening 
wake plowed past the cordgrass- 
Irned banks, as my fish struggled for 
deeper water. Behind the backdrop of 
a colonial-era, waterfront home, wil- 
lets blasted in the background, my 
spinning reel sang the whimsical 
tune of the struggle at hand, and in- 
cessant greenhead flies gave me a 
sense of place, so to speak. It wasn't 
long before I saw the redfish roll, re- 
vealing its bronze back and chubby, 
opaque belly. Holding him gently by 
the kayak gtmwale, I backed out the 
leadhead lure and slipped the fish 
back into the creek. 1 had forgotten all 
about the greenheads, because this 
redfish was a worthy adversary on 
an early morning sojourn along a me- 
andering Eastern Shore tidal creek. 
For me, it was a natural connection to 
this never-ending water world. 

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a 
land defined by water. Long, thin 
tidal creeks snake among forever 
marshes, in turn thinly stitched to up- 
land maritime forests. For almost 
four centuries the region's history, 
heritage, and culture have been influ- 
enced as much by the ebb and flow of 
the tides as they have by economic 
change. With colonial settlement dat- 
ing back to the early 17th century, 
small waterfront villages have de- 
pended on tidal rivers for transporta- 
tion, communication, and subsis- 
tence. Native Americans used them 
for the same purposes. Today, several 
historic waterfront homes are located 
on former Indian clan occupation 
sites, and many of the area's rivers 
still carry their indigenous place 

names, a constant reminder of the 
Shore's cultural past. For both cul- 
tures, the daily pull of the tide was 
the heartbeat of survival in an unfor- 
giving land. With modern conven- 
iences like kayaks, canoes, and bug 
repellent, anglers can quietly explore 
these same waterways today, and 
with fishing rod in hand, replicate the 
routes of Indians, colonists, soldiers, 
smugglers, and escaped slaves. 


Straddling the powerful Atlantic 
Ocean on one side and the graceful 
Chesapeake on the other, the Eastern 
Shore is embraced by water that reg- 
ularly inundates myriad coastal bays, 
tidal creeks, and long, twisting gvits. 
The shore is 400 years rich in cultural 
history and thousands of years rich in 
hosting a variety of wildlife. The 

peninsula becomes an aerial high- 
way for countless migrating water- 
fowl, songbirds, hawks, and shore- 
birds each fall. Fish and shellfish 
abound in the waters. During the fall, 
cool nights and shorter days are the 
trigger pull for most fish — stripers, 
trout, flounder, drum, and other 
species — to exit the skinny water 
world and head off to deeper waters 
of the southeast. For anglers, tliis be- 
comes a magical time of year to fish, 
trying to intercept these hard feeding 
and soon fleeing game fish. 

Fishing from a kayak is forgiving. 
You don't need fancy or expensive 
gear to succeed. I prefer to use a fast 
action, six- to seven-foot medium 
light spinning roci spooled with qual- 
ity 10-pound test line. I'll also use a 
20-lb. test section of fluorocarbon 
leader attached by a barrel swivel to 

Many tidal creeks sport small, sandy beaches — great places to stretch out, 
wade fish, or take it all in from a slightly elevated viewpoint. 



give me some leverage for dealing 
with hard pulling fish, especially in 
clear waters around oyster shells. 

Important angler tools include a 
hook remover, a short shaft net, po- 
larized sun glasses, and m.aybe a 
backup fishing rod. I like to carry an 
assortment of lures, including lead- 
heads with plastic trailers in pearl 
and chartreuse, gold spoons, swim- 
ming-type plugs, and even surface 
poppers. I use single hooks, since 
most fish are released. Occasionally 
I'll also bring bottom fishing tackle, 
such as single dropper rigs with 
weights and float rigs for drifting 
fresh bait through deep holes. Drift- 
ing for flounder is a blast out of a 
tupperware boat. 

Wade fishing around sand bars 
is also an option, so wear old sneak- 
ers. Nothing like having a nice fat 
speckled trout swimming around 
your legs in clear creek water. In ad- 

Plenty of uncrowded boot ramps are 
found down scenic back roads. 

Long, thin tidal creeks snake 
among forever marshes, in 
turn thinly stitched to upland 
maritime forests. 

dition, I've had good luck on specks 
and stripers using clousers and de- 
ceivers connected to an 8-weight fly 
rod. The deceiver was invented by 
fishing legend Lefty Kreh while fish- 
ing for rockfish in the shallows of 
Tangier Sound. 

As far as fishing technique goes, 
I'm all about comfort. Most of the 
time I just drift and cast around likely 
spots such as channels and small 
holes in creeks. If I want to sit tight, I 
either back up into the bank or use a 
small collapsible anchor which I've 
rigged up to feed from the cockpit 
area through a line guide near the 
bow. My kayak is a simple touring 

type, made for stability. I don't have 
any fancy rod holders or depth finder 
rigged around the cockpit. As far as 
I'm concerned, they are simply more 
things to carry and can get in the way 
of a running fish. 

While paddling quiet waterways, I 
often find myself birding, checking out 
the architecture of historic homes, and 
closely studying the shoreline at low 
tide for the remnants of peoples long 
released from their tenacious hold on 
this land of the water world. Thus, 
fishing is often not what the trip is aU 
about. It becomes much more since the 
Eastern Shore has so much more to 
offer. My outlook might best be 
summed up by a Robert Louis Steven- 
son quote: "I travel not to go any- 
where, but to go." n 

Charlie Petwcci is a maritime heritage researcher, writer, 
lecturer, and consultant who specializes in coastal tradi- 
tions such as fisheries, seafood, and communih/ folklife. 
He has lived on the Eastern Shore for the past 25 years. 

Hot Soots and Launch Sites 

Fishing villages such as Tangier are 
great places to paddle around or pick 
up bait. 

he Eastern Shore has a number of 
. good access points to drop in a boat, 
including DGIF and county boat ramps. 
Some are Located in small towns that 
offer nearby amenities such as food, 
lodging, and fishing tackle. Other ramps 
and access points are located down long 
winding roads that dead end at a creek. 

To pick one favorite skinny water 
fishing area is like trying to pick a fa- 
vorite slab of ribs at a national cookout 
contest. They all taste good, but cer- 
tainly some are better than others. 
Below is a list of easy access, productive 
fishing spots. All sites are located off of 
Route 13, the main artery of the penin- 

Guard Shore, which is located on the 
end of Route 688, has a nice sandy 
beach for easy boat launching and good 
parking. This small neck of land is where 
Guilford Creek and Muddy Creek come to- 
gether, and there are several small guts 
and creeks nearby that offer good fish- 
ing as well. Species active here include 
speckled trout, redfish, rockfish, and 
croaker. The name. Guard Shore, comes 

from the fact that it was a lookout site 
during the War of 1812 for British raid- 
ing parties from distant Tangier Island. 

Oyster is a small seaside village on 
the lower end of the Shore. As its name 
implies, it was once a large landing site 
for local oysters and other shellfish. 
There is a good double ramp on the 
north side of the harbor, with plenty of 
parking. This drop-in site gives you ac- 
cess to beautiful marshes, creeks, and 
the confluence of Mockhorn and Sand 
Shoal channels. Deep holes can hold 
gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, and 
red drum. And if you can make it out to 
the flats area, you may spot tarpon— 
probably the most northern concentra- 
tion of this otherwise southern waters, 
spectacular fish. 

14^77/75 Wharf is an interesting little 
town located east of Exmore off Route 
603. There is a good boat ramp here with 
parking and an adjacent deck overlook. 
Nearby are state-of-the-art clam hatch- 
eries. A paddle will take you out into 
Machipongo Channel, which hosts nu- 
merous deep holes and healthy shore- 




Tangier Island 



Messongo Creek 

Guard Shore 


Eastern Shore 
of Virginia 


Skinny water fishing doesn't always mean big 
game fishing, but you'll enjoy the adventure. 

lines to cast among. In the distance are 
both historic Cobb and Hog islands, 
noted for their great surf fishing. The 
channel and adjacent creeks host 
sharks, flounder, red drum, and trout. 
You'll learn the meaning of low tide here, 
especially during a full moon phase. 

Chincoteague off of Route 175 is 
home to numerous boat ramps, located 
on both sides of the island. The east side 
offers easy access to waters around As- 
sateague Island, while those on the west 
side put you out in Chincoteague Chan- 
nel. One of my favorite drop-in sites is at 
the small park across from the high 
school. The hot species around these 
waters is, of course, flounder, but there 
are areas that hold kingfish, blues, gray 
trout, and rockfish during the fall 
months. The Assateague side of the is- 
land is more user friendly, especially dur- 
ing high boat traffic days. 

Harborton, located off of Route 180, 
is a cool little bayside village that sits 
astride Pungoteague Creek. There is a 
fine boat ramp here and the river is wide 
with several deepwater holes and chan- 



Boat Ramp 

Willis Wharf 

Red Bank 

■Oyster Harbor 

VDGIF-GIS Lab. map courtesy of Lenee Pennington 

Abo of interest: Virginia's Seaside Heritage 
Program and Water Trail Online Guide. 
For more information, go to: 

nel areas to fish. This is a good place to 
nail rockfish, redfish, croaker, trout, and 
sometimes even flounder. It's about a 
two-mile paddle down to the main chan- 
nel opening to the bay. 

Occohannock Creek has a fine boat 
ramp at Morley's Whari^ located off Route 
183. This beautiful creek has great histo- 
ry and is surrounded by pristine marshes. 
There are small guts and coves located 
along the creek and plenty of fishable 
areas to cast, too. Channel edges and 
holes will hold flounder, croaker, gray 
trout, rockfish, and sometimes red drum. 

It's approximately three miles down to 
the creek mouth to the bay. 

In addition, the Department operates 
boat ramps and great fishing can be 
found at Red Bank Creek, Messongo 
Creek, and the town of Saxis. Keep in 
mind that weather and tides can make or 
break your skinny water trip so check ac- 
cordingly. Always wear a life jacket; 
bring plenty of water, snacks, a small 
GPS, cell phone or small marine radio, 
sunscreen, hat, wading shoes, and a 

And, oh yeah, gallons of bug spray. D 





Virginia's Birding and 

Wildlife Trail 
Celebrates Five Years 

by Martha W.Steger 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 

S n the commonwealth's long history of firsts, its birding 
■ and wildlife trail is its most recent claim to fame. This 
1 year, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail — the driv- 
ing trail with many loops connecting to walking and hiking 
trails across the state — celebrates its fifth anniversary as the 
nation's first statewide wildlife viewing trail. Five years 
ago this month, officials dedicated the Piedmont Trail (13 
loops) following development of the Coastal (18 loops) in 
2002 and the Western (34 loops) trails in 2003. 

Seeds of Economic Growth 

Trails, whether wildlife- or heritage-based, are more than 
ends in themselves. Ted Eubanks, president and CEO of 
Fermata Inc., the company that has implemented trails in 
21 states including Virginia, says, "If you're in economic de- 
velopment in the state of Virginia, you're going to highlight 
the quality of life because it places states like yours in an ad- 
vantageous position." 

A study conducted by the Conservation Management 
Institute and released in late 2008 formally addresses the 
impact of the trail on its 640,000 visitors and the many par- 
ticipating Virginia communities. From the thousands of 
people who had requested trail guides, a total of 5,000 indi- 
viduals were randomly surveyed by mail and 30,439 by 
email as part of the study. From that sample, 772 of those 
mailed and 1,609 of those emailed responded. The latest 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, which showed an 83 
percent increase in wildlife viewing trip-related expendi- 
tures from 2001-2006, nicely complements the CMI study 
results, available at 


Birding and Wildlife Trai 

Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of 
the Virginia Tourism Corporation — 
which is celebrating the 40th anniver- 
sary of the "Virginia is for Lovers" 
slogan this year — says, "Birding trav- 
elers certainly fit our present cam- 
paign of connecting travelers with a 
love of life and a passion for travel. 
Our research shows that those who 
engage in birding stay a whopping 75 
percent longer than average and 
spend 42 percent more than our aver- 
age visitor. Having the first statewide 
birding and wildlife trail has helped 
Virginia become a leader in sustain- 
able tourism development and eco- 
tourism experience. The statewide 

Manassas National Battlefield Park 


Fishing on tine Potomac River below Great Falls 

trail is also an excellent example of 
state agencies and the private sector 
tourism industr)' collaborating on a 
comprehensive and exciting proj 

Research also shows that travel- 
ers like attractions in close proxim- 
\t\' to one anotlier, and the VBWT 
is a natural complement to her- 
itage sites and activities such as 
kayaking and photography. The 
trail links localities from the Po- 
tomac River on the north to the 
John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs 
Island Lake) in the south, and 
from the Atlantic Ocean to 
South Holston Lake strad- 
dling Virginia's western bor- 
der with Tennessee. The di- 
versity of scenic views along 
the way is matched only by 
the tremendous variety of 


Before the VBWT, anyone inter- 
ested in birding had to do what Fred- 
erick Atwood, science teacher at Flint 
Hill School in Fairfax County, had to 
do: "... look at a map and explore 
likely-looking roads, only to find that 
the roads dead-ended in private 
property with no access to the bodies 
of water I wanted to look into, some- 
times after several miles of driving 
down a neck. This was very frustrat- 
ing, especially if I was driving a van 
full of kids. Now, in planning a field 
trip for students to an area that I am 
unfamiliar with, I use the VBWT 
route as the core of the field trip. And 
even in places that I am quite familiar 
with, the distinctive brown road 
signs have pointed me to good bird- 
ing spots that I didn't know about." 

Tim Hodge, a 17-year-old ardent 
birder in Nelson County who consid- 
ers Atwood his birding mentor, says 
he's seen 171 species on the Rockfish 
Valley Trail, a route he's covered 
three times in its entirety among his 
varied birding experiences. A birder 
since age nine, Hodge adds, "Birding 
intersects with mv interest in art and 

provides a good foundation for 
branching out into all fauna and flora 
in Virginia." 

Branching Out 

Birding travelers do branch out. 
Thelma Dalmas, who wrote some of 
the Lynchburg area copy in the Vir- 
ginia Birding and Wildlife Trail guide 
for the Piedmont, says, "We use the 
guides for anything more than 25 
miles from our home. I know my 
home plot, but I don't know the out- 
of-the-way places for the rest of the 
state. If we're going somewhere, we 
adjust our route to encompass more 
of the trail — and we know other peo- 
ple who do the same thing." 

Even though birding can be an in- 
expensive hobby, birders are strong 
earners and spenders, which benefits 
Virginia's businesses and tax coffers. 
Total direct economic impact of the 
VBWT was estimated at $8,638,895 
per year by CMI's Encounter Survey. 
Median annual family income ex- 
ceeded $75,000; and greater than 72 
percent of all respondents had com- 

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BuUpasture River, Highland County 



To order a Virginia Birdin^ 
and Wildlife Trail Guide 
($8.50), go to: www.dgif. and click on 
the"Shop Online"button. 

pleted at least four years of college, 
with more than 40 percent having 
earned a graduate degree. 

The significance of this data can- 
not be overestimated because, "Just 
as the trail and its guides provide an 
incentive for people to come, local 
folks are more apt to support a pro- 
gram when they see people coming," 
says Allen Hale, chairman of the Nel- 
son County Board of Supervisors, a 
45-year birder, and owner of Buteo 
Books store. 

Local as well as state officials 
sought to take advantage of federal 
funding made available: about $1.1 
million in Transportation Enhance- 
ment Grants (which had to be 
matched by staff and in-kind support 
from the Virginia Tourism Corpora- 
tion and other partners), and a 
$300,000 grant from the Virginia 
Coastal Zone Management Program. 
Most of the cost of the trail was in re- 
search and development; for exam- 
ple, site evaluations followed by pub- 
lication development. With com- 
pletely free access to the trail, wildlife 
viewers contribute significantly to 
the Department annually through 
House Bill 38, license plate sales, 
nongame fund contributions, and 
other license sales (duck stamps pur- 
chased by birders to support wet- 
lands conservation, for example). 

In the southwest Virginia town of 
Saltville, director of tourism Charlie 
Bill Totten was one of those who 
knew years ago that economic devel- 
opment could come from birding in 


Shenandoah Mountain Range 


the area. "We have the only inland 
saline marsh in Virginia," he says. As 
a result, Saltville over the years has 
recorded several species of birds that 
would normally only be found in 
eastern Virginia. Totten sings the 
praises of the Salt Trail and points to 
the recent resurfacing of a wooden 
trestle headed four miles north out of 
town as providing public access to 
"... one of the greatest blue heron 
rookeries on the East Coast." 

Saltville businessman Brandon 
Gates, manager of Food Country, 
agrees on the economic stimulation 
that birding can bring. He cites the 
parking lot adjacent to his store 
where birders park and come in to 
buy drinks and foodstuffs. 

Success stories repeat themselves 
on the eastern side of the state. Bruce 
and Carol Evans, owners of Cape 
Charles House Bed and Breakfast, 
book early every year for fall's East- 
ern Shore Birding Festival (Sept. 
17-20, 2009), which has grown with 
the development of the VBWT. The 
Evanses pride themselves on accom- 
modating birders year-round with 
very early breakfasts and with servic- 

es such as arranging certified eco- 
tour guides for the barrier islands. 

People who care about economic 
development as well as about quali- 
ty-of-life issues see birding as an ac- 
tivity that will expand, not only as 
baby boomers retire but also with the 
education of a younger generation. 
Mary Arginteanu of Richmond, 
member of a coalition led by Rich- 
mond Audubon, master naturalists 
and master gardeners, says, "Inner- 
city students can get as turned on to a 
great blue heron as kids that live in 
the suburbs. The birding and wildlife 
trail has helped us get a lot of inner- 
city kids outdoors. We've had Girl 
Scouts and Brownies on the James 
River Park Trail see two owls being 
mobbed by a blue-gray gnatcatch- 
er — and tliat was exciting!" 

Arginteanu had a letter from a 
grateful scout leader for what the 
coalition had done for "her girls." 
"Once you get the kids out there, they 
just love being nature detectives," 
Arginteanu adds. 

At least one locality, however, has 
found it challenging to market its sec- 
tion of the V13WT. Roger Mayhom of 

Buchanan says their part of the trail 
appears to be used almost exclusive- 
ly by locals. "Occasionally, when we 
are leading a bird walk with our own 
group on a section of the trail, we'll 
get a birder or two who have seen our 
outing posted on our listserv and will 
come to join us — ^but that is the extent 
of it." 

In an attempt to attract more bird- 
ers, Buchanan is promoting its annu- 
al Coalfields Folk Life Festival, which 
includes guided bird walks, more 
heavily each year. 

As for the trail's future, David 
Whitehurst, director. Wildlife Re- 
sources Bureau, says, "We know that 
no one agency, one locality, or one 
person is ever going to accomplish 
the monumental task of heightening 
awareness and use of the trail. Only 
by increasing partnerships among all 
of the entities involved can we secure 
the success of the trail for the next 
five — the next fifty — years." D 

An Accomack County native, Martha W. Steger 
is a Midlothian-based, freelance writer and edi- 
tor who spent 25 years as director ofpid->Uc rela- 
tions for the Virginia Tourism Corporation. 

W etrievers like to brag a little about 
^ their hunting buddies, and it is 
pretty dam humiliating for your dog 
when the two of you are the last to 
leave the shooting field and have to 
walk past some snickering Boykin or 
Cocker Spaniels laughing at your 
poor performemce. Yeah, I know, you 
promised yourself that this year was 
going to be different, but somehow 
life got in the way of target practice. 

What is even more embarrassing 
is that you humans actually call dove 
shooting "hunthig. " The only hunting 
I've seen you do is drive around in an 
air-conditioned vehicle looking for 
sunflower, com, or millet fields, hop- 
ing to catch a flight pattem of the bird 
of peace. Then, around the first of Sep- 
tember or so, you park your derriere 
in the middle of one of those fields — in 
a comfy beach chair — as if you're get- 
ting a late season tan. On top of that, 
your poor retriever has to sit in 90° 
heat in his fur coat, panting like a 
steam engine, while you bask in your 
shorts taking pot shots at a gray, acro- 
batically inclined, featliered dart. 

Speaking of feathers... Doves 
must have the tear-away type. They 
unravel faster than an executive 
bonus at AIG. Think about it. You 
have given us a headache by shooting 
your 12-gauge in our ears. Then, you 
fuss and yell at us because we don't 
just perk up and run over a crispy, hot 
field to fetch a bird you finally 
scratched down after an inordinate 
(who can count that high?) number of 
shots. Do you have any idea what it 
feels like to mn around with a feather 
pillow in your mouth on a searing hot 
summer day? 

I do not call that hunting. No sir, I 
truly do not! 

This year, how about showing a 
little more consideration for your best 
friend by having a bowl of fresh, cold 

water ready for us while we are doing 
our best to utilize our inefficient cool- 
ing system? It never looks gooti on 
your club resume to have your retriev- 
er pass out due to heat exhaustion, or 
to spend the evening explaining to 
your wife and children why you and 
their treasured pet spent most of the 
day in the emergency room of your fa- 
vorite vet! Your family deserves a little 
better than that, especially if you've 
left them at home during the final holi- 
day weekend of the summer. 

There is something else I have 
been meaning to ask. . . What is it with 
you guys in camo sJwrts and t-shirts? 1 
assume you wear camouflage for the 
purpose of concealment, but with all 
that bare skin showing, you might as 
well bring in the big lights they use at 
movie premieres for all the Hding you 
are doing. If a dove can spot a kernel of 
grain in a field at 45 yards, what makes 
you thiiik it can't see all that sweating 
epidermis you're flaunting? 

So remember, it wouldn't do you 
folks any harm to get some shooting 
practice in before the season starts. Just 
as you like to show us off with a fine re- 
trieve, we want the other dogs to ad- 
mire how well our masters shoot. And 
don't think we don't notice. We may 
not have taken calculus in obedience 
school but we can count. If you don't 
believe us, let us watch you put three 
dog biscuits in your pocket, have us 
sit, and only give us two. We know 
there's a third one in there! 

Remember, nobody leaves a dove 
field any prouder than a dog cind his 
shooter who are the first to get their 

Keep a leg up, 


Luke, a black Labrador retriever, spends liis spare 
time loitli best friend Clarke C. Jones hunting up 
good stories. You can I'isit Luke and Clarke on 
tlieir Web site at iinimuiarkecjofies.coni. 


HOTO Contest Reminder 

The deadline for submitxing photographs 
for the 2009 VirginiaWildlife Photography 
Contest is November 2, 2009. 
Winning photographs will appear in the 
special March 20 1 issue of the magazine. 
i_For more information about the contest 
^nd to view last year's edition online, visit 
16 Department's Web site at: 


2009 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
Web site at or call 

September 5: Dove season opens. 

September 10, 12 and 17: Liglits, Cam- 
era, Action: Photographing Colors, Tex- 
tures, and Patterns in the Garden; with 
Lynda Richardson; Lewis Ginter I, 
Botanical Garden, Richmond; _g 

September 12: Jakes Event; Page Val- 
ley Sportsman's Club; contact Art 
Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or 

September 12-13: Western Regional 
Big Game Contest, Harrisonburg; 

September 17-20: Eastern Shore Bird- 
ingand Wildlife Festival, Cape Charles; / festivals / 
birding/ or call 757-787-2460. 

September 26: Youth Deer Hunting 
Day (ages 15 and younger). 

September 26: National Hunting and 
Fishing Day. 

September 26-27: Eastern Regional 
Big Game Contest and State Champion- 
ship, Franklin; 

September 26: Women Exploring 
Eoudoun Outdoors. Contact Loudoun 
County Chapter of Izaak Walton 
League of America at (540) 535-8891 
or welo.event(f" 

October 17: Youth Fall Turkey Hunt 
Day (ages 15 and younger). 

November 7: Northern Shenandoah 
Valley Birding Festival, Winchester. D 

Hunters and Anglers 
Contribute to the Economy 

According to the National Shooting 
Sports Foundation (NSSF), Virginia 
hunters and anglers have a signifi- 
cant impact on our local economy, 
spending $1.3 billion a year! 

The group reported in early 2008 
that, based on the report "Hunting 
and Fishing: Bright Stars of the 
American Economy," (www.sports 
hunters and anglers have an im- 
mense impact on the economy at 
both the national and state levels. In 
Virginia alone, spending by hunters 
and anglers directly supports 24,000 
jobs, which puts $683 million worth 
of paychecks into pockets of working 
residents around the state. Of course, 
government coffers also benefit. 
Spending by sportsmen in pursuit of 
these outdoor activities generates 
$128 million in state and local taxes. 
These latest figures demonstrate that, 
season after season, hunters and an- 
glers are driving the economy from 
big businesses to rural towns, 
through booms and recessions. 

Jeff Crane, who serves as presi- 

dent of the Congressional Sports- 
men's Foundation, made this obser- 
vation: "Because sportsmen enjoy 
hunting or fishing alone or in small 
groups, they are overlooked as a con- 
stituency and as a substantial eco- 
nomic force." He added, "When you 
compare spending by hunters and 
anglers to other sectors, their impact 
on the state's economy becomes 
more tangible." 

NSSF president Doug Painter 
noted, "Spending by sportsmen ben- 
efits not only the manufacturers of 
hunting and fishing related products, 
but everything from local mom and 
pop businesses to wildlife conserva- 
tion. And because most hunting and 
fishing takes place in rural areas, 
much of the spending benefits less af- 
fluent parts of the state." 

Indeed, as reported by the NSSF, 
when sportsmen's spending is 
thought of in business terms and 
compared to other sectors of the 
economy, it is quite remarkable. D 

Commonwealth o/ Virginia 

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 

Lifetime Licenses 

Open the door to a lifetime of enjoyment 

in the great outdoors of Virginia with a 

lifetime freshwater fishing, hunting 

or trout license! 

It's an investment that keeps on giving. 

For more information visit 


orcalll- (866) 721-6911 



by Beth Hester 

Four Years in Paradise 

by Osa Johnson, forward by Mary 

Zeiss Stange 

2004 Stackpole Books: Sisters of the 

Hunt Series 

"Wc were attempting to make an authen- 
tic film record of vanishing wild life as it 
existed in its last and greatest stronghold. 
And, if in some over-civilized future, 
cities should crowd out the elephants and 
wars should bomb the giraffes from the 
plains and the baboons from the treetops, 
our films would stand as a record for pos- 
terity. " 

Osa Johnson, 1941 

In 1924, Osa Johnson struck out for 
remote Kenya with her cinematogra- 
pher husband, Martin. This was the 
second of four trips into Africa to 
chronicle a way of life that was al- 
ready being threatened by the en- 
croachment of modern civilization. 

Osa was an outdoorswoman, 
writer, and occasional vaudeville 
performer who had developed a taste 
for gardening and a passion for hunt- 
ing and fishing as a child growing up 
in the Midwest. She was a 'stand-up' 
kind of woman and, by all accounts, a 
fabulous shot. During Martin and 
Osa's four-year adventure at their 
compound at Lake Paradise, her gun, 
her vegetable garden, and her Hardy 
fly rod would unfailingly provide 
food for the intrepid duo, and also for 
the 200 or so assistants and caretakers 
who occupied their sprawling camp. 

This book, a reprint of the origi- 
nal version, is an important docu- 
ment for a number of reasons. From 
an environmental perspective, it 
chronicles early efforts at conserva- 
tion and reflects Martin and Osa's be- 
lief that the efforts of artists, natural- 
ists, and scientists might help to doc- 
ument and preserve the last of un- 

touched, pre-colonial Africa. The 
lush and unforgiving forests and the 
abundance of available fish and 
game seem almost fantasy-like, given 
the current state of our stressed plan- 
et. Yet in 1924, the African continent 
was already under the gun, so to 
speak, and the films and photo- 
graphs produced during the John- 
sons' adventures served both to en- 
tertain and educate the public once 
their post-safari lecture tours began. 

From the standpoint of history. 
Four Years in Paradise documents a 
way of traveling and an approach to 
exploration that will never come 
again. The tactics and sheer effort of 
will it took to trek hundreds of miles, 
to transport thousands of pounds of 
gear while bushwhacking almost 
every step of the way, is amazing by 
our modem standards. 

It must also be mentioned that 
Osa and Martin were products of the 
times in which they lived, and some 
of their contradictory attitudes to- 
ward the "boys" who helped run 
their camp reflect this. And yet, the 
Johnsons were often criticized for 
treating many of the native Africans 
like members of their own family. 

From a purely literary perspec- 
tive, it is a detail-crammed, strenuous 
true life adventure tale from a 
woman's perspective, and as person- 
al narrative, it holds its own among 
such enduring classics as Isak Dine- 
sen's Out of Africa and Beryl 
Markham's West With the Night. D 


"Be careful, Doris, there are 
some sharp drop-offs in here." 

^ Mandatory 
Duck Stamps & HIP 

^H J |ll hunters who plan to hunt doves, 
^" " waterfowl, rails, woodcock, snipe, 
coots,gallinules,or moorhens in Virginia 
must be registered with the Virginia 
Harvest Information Program (HIP). 
HIP is required each year and a new reg- 
istration number is needed for the 
2009-20 1 hunting season. To obtain a 
new HIP number, register online at or call I -888-788-9772. 
In addition, to hunt waterfowl in 
Virginia hunters must obtain a Federal 
Duck Stamp, and the Virginia Migratory 
Waterfowl Conservation Stamp (unless 
license exempt). The annual Migratory 
Waterfowl Conservation Stamp can be 
purchased for $ 1 0.00 (resident or non- 
resident) from DGIF license agents or 
from the Department's Web site. To re- 
quest collector stamps and prints, con- 
tact Mike Hinton by email at 

Congratulations to fisheries biologist Paul 
Bugas (C), who was recently recognized 
by Trout Unbmited (TU) as their 
Conservationist of the Year for Virginia! 
Bugas has worked for the Department for 32 
years and is currently stationed in the 
Verona regional office. Over the course of 
his career, Bugas has been tireless in his 
efforts to manage and monitor wild trout 
populations — specifically, developing special 
regulation trout streams and developing the 
Lake Moomaw and Jackson River trout fish- 
eries — and educate kids through Trout 
Unbmited's Trout in the Classroom program. 
Bugas is joined by John Ross (L) of TU and 
Gary Martel, DGIF fisheries division head. 



by Lynda Richardson 

Focus in on Depth-of-Field 

Learning how to control depth-of- 
field is a 'must know' aspect of 
photography. It is an important tool 
that you can use to change how a 
photograph is viewed or perceived. 
Depth-of-field translates into how 
much is in focus in front of and be- 
hind your subject, and is controlled 
by your camera's aperture settings. It 
can help to emphasize a subject or it 
can define many details in a scene. 

When you select a subject to pho- 
tograph, think about how much you 
want in focus. Depth-of field works 
in a ratio of one-third in focus in front 
of a subject and two-thirds in focus 
behind a subject. Which aperture you 
select will determine the one- 
third / two-thirds ratio in inches, feet, 
or yards. The lens you use will also 
come into play when deciding how 
much depth-of-field you need in a 

Aperture refers to the diameter 
of the lens opening through which 
light is allowed onto the film or cam- 
era's sensor It is defined by numbers 
relating to the size of the opening. 
The larger the aperture opening, f .2.8 
for example, the more light is al- 
lowed onto the film or sensor and the 
least amount around your subject 
will be in focus. This is considered 
iniiiiininii depth-of-field. The smaller 
the opening, say f.22.0, the lesser the 
amount of light allowed in, which en- 
sures that you will have as much in 
focus as possible in front of and be- 
hind your subject. This is considered 
rnaxinium depth-of-field. 

If you have an adjustable camera, 
it should allow you to control the 
aperture settings in both manual and 
aperture priority modes. (Check 
your camera manual for more de- 
tails.) The best way to actually see 
what depth-of-field does to photo- 
graphs is to place your camera on a 
tripod and select a subject with some- 
thing in front of and behind it. Then, 


Look at these two photographs and see if 
you don't notice a difference in the depth-of- 
field. The one on the left was shot using 
f. 4. and the one on the right was shot using 
f.22.0. Which do you like best and why? 
®Lynda Richardson 

using aperture priority, or manual if 
you're good with exposure correc- 
tions, focus on your subject and take 
pictures using the highest and lowest 
aperture settings and then one set- 
ting in the middle. Do not change 

your focus or move your camera 
while doing this exercise because it 
will mess up your results. 

What you should notice right 
away is a big difference in the three 
images relating to what is in focus. 
Try this in several different situations 
and with different lenses and you 
will begin to see how controlling and 
understanding depth-of-field can 
work for you. Good luck and have 
fun!!! D 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone num- 
ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 


Congratulations to David Lyster of Charlottesville for his image of on adult mourning dove and 
two young, or squab as they're called. David reports that he noticed an adult flying in and out 
of a stone building near Free Union, went to investigate, and found the young birds in a loft 
window. Nikon D-40 digital camera, 105mm lens, ISO 400, 1/ 160th, f.3.2. Very cool! 




by Tom Guess 

If you don't have a good day trailer ing... 

IJ ave you ever found yourself get- 
ff ting ready to go on a trip but 
running late? This can cause you to 
do things that increase your chances 
of making a mistake — one that might 
ruin the whole day. 

It was just one of those days. I 
woke up early and seemed to be 
doing well on time management 
when I realized that everything I was 
trying to do was taking extra long. I 
didn't connect my trailer the night 
before as I usually do, since I thought 
1 would have plenty of time. 1 started 
my freshly painted truck with its new 
back bumper and took a moment to 
admire the smell of new paint as I 
searched for the pigtail plug for my 
trailer lights. 

I walked over to take a quick look 
at my trailer to get my bearings be- 
fore connecting it. Often when I con- 
nect my trailer alone, 1 use a 6-foot 
section of PVC pipe and place it verti- 
cally next to the tongue on my trailer 
to use as a reference point when I'm 
backing up, to line up the hitch. I re- 
turned to my truck in somewhat of a 
trot, running even later now against 
my self-imposed schedule. I got in 
my truck, backed up to the trailer to a 
point where I felt I was close to hav- 
ing the hitch lined up, and stopped. I 
stepped out and went back to see 
how I did. Everything lined up close- 
ly enough to work. I lowered the 
trailer jack so that the ball would seat 
itself inside the coupler, raised the 
jack into a horizontal position so that 
my little wheel wouldn't drag the 
road, connected my safety chains in 
the common "X" pattern, and con- 
nected my lights and visually 
checked my tires. Finally, I pulled for- 

ward and checked my lights. Ever}'- 
thing was in order. 

Since I was rumiing late, I head- 
ed out of the drive a little faster than 
normal and, almost instantly, heard a 
louci "clunk" and felt my truck surge 
a bit. I did what many folks in the 
same situation woukl cio — hit the 
brake — and immediately heard a se- 
ries of bangs, clanks, and other metal- 
lic, scratchy noises that didn't sound 
so good. 1 soon realized that in my 
haste I forgot one of the important 
steps of hooking up a trailer. I ciidn't 
lock the locking lever on my trailer 
coupler and put the pin in it! 

I was a bit nervous about what I 
would find when I went to the back 
of my truck. As 1 peered around the 
tailgate with teeth gritted, 1 found 
that my safety chains worked as 
planned, but the tongue of the trailer 
rose up a bit from the dip in my drive- 

way. This was about the same time 
that I applied the brakes, which 
caused tlie coupler to bounce off the 
ball and make contact with my newly 
installed rear bumper. Tliis left quite 
a dent and put me in a rather foul 

Performing regular trailer main- 
tenance and connecting your trailer 
completely and correctly to the prop- 
er-sized vehicle are just as important 
as maintaining your boat. Remem- 
ber, if you do sufifer the misfortune of 
your trailer becoming disconnected, 
slow down gradually witliout slam- 
ming on the brakes. As I discovered 
that day, if you don't have a good day 
trailering, you won't have a good day 
boating! □ 

Totn Guess, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as a 
stateicide coordinator for the Boating Safety Ed- 
ucation Program at tlie DGIF. 

Used by permission, ®2009 Boat Ed., 




by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Bacon-Wrapped Dove Breasts 

Dove hunts have been a southern tradition for genera- 
tions. The fast-flying game birds present challenges for 
wingshooters, opportunities for enthusiastic retrievers, 
and tasty morsels for any dining table. 

One of the first opportunities we had to enjoy this del- 
icacy came following a dove hunt with Shep Rouse, ov^nier 
and winemaker of Rockbridge Vineyards in Raphine, Va. 
Upon firing up the grill. Rouse observed he was missing a 
key ingredient— bacon. Necessity is the mother of inven- 
tion and pepperoni tacked to the dove breasts served as an 
adequate, albeit spicy, substitute. 

We've met lots of skeptical people who wondered 
about how dove might taste. Cooked as an appetizer one 
day for a group of military officers from England, they 
could barely maintain their British stiff upper lip, what 
with all the smacking and "Wow" exclamations. 

This is a simple, can't miss recipe. 

Bacon- Wrapped Dove Breasts 

12 skinless dove breasts 

Garlic pepper 

6 slices bacon (we like the center cut variety- 
use thin sliced) 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

Vi cup dry red wine 

Lightly season breasts with garlic pepper. Wrap each in a 
half-piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick that has 
been moistened with water. (Use a full slice if you're a 
bacon nut. Don't use thick sliced bacon as it takes too long 
to cook. You can cook these on a grill, but then you can't 
add the wine seasoning and, if not careful, you can dry out 
the meat.) Add olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium 
heat. Add doves and brov^m on all sides— a couple minutes 
on each side ensures cooked bacon. Remove skillet from 
heat for about 10-1 5 seconds and adjust burner to low. Be- 
fore returning skillet to burner, add v^ne. Removing the 
pan from heat for 10-15 seconds helps prevent flare-ups. 
Also, don't pour wine directly from the bottle. Pour into 
measuring cup first. Although rare, flames can follow any 
beverage with alcohol back into the bottle, causing an ex- 
plosion. Cover skillet and cook for five or six minutes or 
until doves are completely done. 
Serves three or four people. 

This dish pairs very nicely v^th garlic green beans vidth 
tomatoes. Any kind of rice, from a basic boxed chicken fla- 
vor to white rice to wild rice (Ken's favorite) can't miss. 

Garlic Green Beans 

1 pound fresh green beans 
1 Vz tablespoon olive oil 
1 or 2 large garlic clove, chopped 
4 or 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced about 1 inch thick 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Wash and snap fresh green beans. Add oil and garlic to 
pan. Heat over medium-low until garlic softens— about 
two minutes. Add green beans and cook another two min- 
utes. Increase heat to medium high and add tomatoes, salt 
and pepper. Continue cooking a few more minutes— only 
until beans are crisp/tender and tomatoes are warm and 

Wine pairing: Dove breasts beg for a nice pinot noir, but 
bacon can be smoky, salty and strong. Pull the bacon off 
and nosh first on the succulent dove breasts. Save the 
bacon for dessert! Or add it to tomorrow morning's 
omelet. D 




Limited Edition 
Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

Our 2008 Collector's knife has once again been customized by Buck Knives. 
The knife features a red-tailed hawk engraving, augmented by a natural 
woodgrain handle and gold lettering. A distinctive, solid cherry box features 
birds of prey. 
Item #\/W-408 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 

2007 Virginia Wildlife 
Collector's Knife 

tK'Ui m 

Customized by Buck Knives, this classic model 1 10 folding knife is 8 1/2" 
long when fully opened and has a distinctive, natural woodgrain handle with 
gold lettering. Each knife is individually serial numbered and has a mirror pol- 
ished blade engraved with a fox. A solid cherry box engraved with foxes is in- 

Item # VW-407 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 


and Turtles 

From mountains to the coast, our plush collectibles will remind you of your 
favorite Virginia habitat. (Sizes range from 5" to 9" long) 


White-tailed Fawn 
Sea Turtle Set (2) 

$9.95 each 
$9.95 each 

Habitat at Home 

Check out this new DVD that features 
several types of home habitat gardens and 
interviews with the homeowners who 
created them. 

Item #VW-254 

$12.00 each 

To Order visit the Department's Web site at: or call (804) 367-2569. 

Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 






Ny/I r^cii mi Ayi\l d^ r^ 



apprentice huntm^icenseserves as a first 
time Virginia resident or nonresident hunting li- 
[ cense and is good for 2 years. 

The license holder must be accompanied and 
directly supervised by a mentor over 18 vs^ho 
[ has on his or her person a valid Virginia hunting 

The apprentice license does not qualify the 
holder to purchase a regular hunting license, 
nor exempt the holder from compliance with 
Department regulations. A hunter education 
[course must be successfully completed to ob- 
tain a regular hunting license. 

A bear, deer, turkey license and all applicable 
stamps or permits are required in addition to 
the apprentice license. 

Previous Virginia resident and nonresident 
hunting license holders may not use an appren- 
tice license. 

To learn more about the Virginia Apprentice 
Hunting License, call (866) 721-69! I or log on 
; to 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1 -800-7 1 0-9369 

Twelve issues for $ 1 2.95! 

All other calls to (804) 367-1 000 

it's once again time to purchase a 
Virginia Wildlife calendar — a thoughtful 
holiday gift that's still a bargain at 

$10 each 

As always, the calendar features 
spectacular photography and useful 
information to the outdoors enthusiast, 
including wildlife behavior, hunting 
seasons, favorable hunting and fishing 
times, state fish records, and more! 

Quantities Are Limited^ 
So Order Yours Today. 

Make your check payable to 
"Treasurer ofVirginia" and send to: 
Virginia Wildlife Calendar, 
P.O. Box 1 1 1 04, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 1 04. 

To pay by VISA or MasterCard, 
you may order online at on our 
secure site. 
Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.